Listen to this story
Voices inside Thailand’s main opposition party are growing increasingly confident that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha can be removed before May, several sources told Thai Enquirer on Thursday.
General and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has ruled the country since he took power in a May 2014 coup. The former coup leader used his military-appointed coup government to introduce mechanism that has allowed him to retain office after elections in 2019.
But increasingly, his position looks embattled. The ruling Palang Pracharat Party, which is the main party that backs Prayut, has suffered several high profile setbacks in recent weeks including a by-election loss in Bangkok followed by the expulsion of 21 MPs including power broker Thammanat Prompao.
The prime minister said that he would not resign but with a hung parliament and defections from the coalition becoming a possibility, his hand may soon be forced.
“If the prime minister does not resign by April, we will have tabled the no-confidence motion by them and we are confident that we can remove him from office,” a senior Pheu Thai MP told Thai Enquirer on condition of anonymity.
“The party is reaching out to all corners to make sure that we have the numbers to remove Prayut from office.”
According to multiple sources inside the Pheu Thai Party, back channel communications have been open to the Bhumjai Thai Party and the Democrat Party who make up the current coalition.
“What all these party leaders need to know whether it is K Anutin (Charnvirakul), K Varawut (Silpa-acha), or whoever ends up leading the Democrats, is that the time for Prayut is over. He will be like a bad memory soon,” the PT MP said.
Thai Enquirer understands that while Pheu Thai have reached out to multiple political parties in recent weeks, one significant absentee from negotiations is Thammanat’s factions of wantaway MPs.
According to sources within the party, Thammanat is too much of a “political liability” given his close association with the ruling party, his previous drug smuggling convictions, and the perception that he is a wildcard and unwilling to play by the rules.